Morning After: Mistakes, Instigators, and Howard

A week and a half ago I wrote about how Ryan Sproul made a mistake that directly led to the overtime game-winning goal for the Florida Panthers.  While I didn’t like the mistake, I was glad that Sproul was out there to make it.  I saw it as a sign that he was getting his chance, that the Red Wings were willing to suffer through some growing pains.

The next game, Sproul was on the ice for three of the Penguins’ four third-period goals as Pittsburgh rallied to win. The only mistake I see on those plays is his failure to cut off a cross-crease pass on the third.

He hasn’t played since, having been replaced by Brian Lashoff (of all people) and then Alexey Marchenko, having returned from injury.

Maybe I was wrong about him getting his shot.  Or maybe I’m missing a mistake that earned him a spot in the pressbox.  Xavier Ouellet has been playing while Sproul sits and I think Sproul has been better this season than Ouellet.  But what do I know?


Speaking of Ouellet, he took an insigator minor and a misconduct for jumping Michael Raffl last night after Raffl hit Steve Ott.  I think it’s hilarious that Ott, the guy who was brought in to stand up for guys, needed someone to stand up for him.

While Matt Shepard was quick to throw praise to Ouellet for fighting on behalf of the guy who usually sticks up for everyone else, I think that was a really dumb move.  Midway through the third period of a tied game you put your team down a man for two minutes and short a defenseman for effectively the rest of the game.

There’s standing up for your teammate and there’s making a smart play.  Sometimes that overlaps.  This time it didn’t.


Jimmy Howard didn’t deserve that loss, but that’s not the first time it’s happened this season.  It’s nothing new that his goal support has been pathetic this season and while a 1-0 loss (even in overtime) doesn’t help the Red Wings much, his play in those games does.

Howard, in all likelihood, will not be a Red Wing next season.  Vegas should claim him in the expansion draft if he’s available.  If they’re not right now, the team should try to trade him at the deadline.

Who knows what kind of market there will be but a team like the Calgary Flames may decide that the Brian Elliot experiment was a failure and, as they scratch for a playoff spot, they need someone more reliable than career backup Chad Johnson.

My point being that Howard’s play makes it easier to trade him, and trading him means that they’re not only free of his contract but also the player who Vegas ends up taking instead of Howard.

This is nothing new, of course.  It’s just worth mentioning that Howard’s play might make it a little more possible to pull off.

Red Wings Rebound with 4-1 Win over Islanders

Two days after an embarrassing 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning ended their six-game winning streak, the Detroit Red Wings bounced back with a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders.

The win kept the Red Wings in a tie for second place in the Atlantic Division with the Montreal Canadiens, one point back of the division-leading Lightning.

Tomas Tatar opened the game’s scoring for Detroit. At 5:29 of the first period, Tatar snapped a shot from near the right faceoff dot through traffic and into the far top corner, beating goalie Chad Johnson just 12 seconds into a power play.

Brendan Smith made it 2-0 with 47 seconds left in the period, wiring a one-timer into the same corner of the net from five feet further out.

The Islanders cut Detroit’s lead in half at 5:24 of the second. On a power play, Lubomir Visnovsky was left all alone in the high slot to take a feed from Frans Nielsen and tee up a shot past netminder Petr Mrazek.

Jonathan Ericsson restored the two-goal lead at 9:21 just as a Detroit power play expired. Ericsson’s shot from the left point deflected off Thomas Hickey, then bounced off the post and in for a 3-1 lead.

With 6:52 left in the middle frame, Gustav Nyquist knocked the rebound of a Henrik Zetterberg one-timer past Johnson to round out the game’s scoring with a power play goal.

Johnson finished the night with 15 saves on 19 shots while Mrazek stopped 22 of 23 attempts.

Detroit scored on two of their four power plays. The Islanders went one-for-four with the man-advantage.

The Red Wings are now off until Thursday when they visit the Colorado Avalanche.


Prior to the game, defenseman Brian Lashoff cleared waivers and was assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins. Additionally, goalie Jonas Gustavsson was sent to the Griffins on a conditioning stint… Defenseman Alexey Marchenko made his season debut, replacing Xavier Ouellet in the lineup. Ouellet was returned to the Griffins on Friday… Daniel Cleary, Jakub Kindl, and Gustavsson were the healthy scratches… Goalie Jimmy Howard and forward Johan Franzen remain on injured reserve.

Second Period Sinks Red Wings in 4-2 Loss to Coyotes

The Red Wings scored first on Thursday night in Glendale but a three-goal second period propelled the Phoenix Coyotes to a 4-2 win over Detroit.

Valtteri Filppula opened the game’s scoring just 1:56 into the first period on a power play. Gustav Nyquist‘s chance from the slot was knocked down and Nyquist caught up with the puck for another try. Phoenix netminder Chad Johnson knocked it aside but Filppula got to the rebound in the left faceoff circle and backhanded a shot into the open side of the net.

Michael Stone knotted things up at 1:47 of the middle period with a blast from the top of the left faceoff circle through Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard.

Former Red Wing Chris Conner put the Coyotes out in front at 8:08. Mikkel Boedker carried the puck into the Detroit zone and as soon as Detroit defender Brendan Smith shifted to pressure him, he passed the puck off to Conner all alone in the left circle to snap a shot between Howard’s legs.

With 3:59 remaining in the period, Shane Doan made it 3-1. Doan and Martin Hanzal were left all alone at the Detroit blue line during a Red Wings’ line change and Keith Yandle hit Hanzal with an outlet pass. Hanzal passed it around a diving defender to leave Doan all alone in front of Howard for a wrister into the back of the net.

The Red Wings made it close with 1:13 remaining when Henrik Zetterberg threw the puck on net and it deflected off Daniel Cleary to get past Johnson for a power play goal with Howard on the bench for yet another attacker.

Hanzal would add an empty-net goal to round out the scoring in the game’s final second.

Detroit finished the night with two power play goals on six tries with the man-advantage. Phoenix was scoreless on four attempts.

Howard stopped 34 of 37 shots he faced while Johnson made 34 saves on 36 shots.

The Red Wings are right back in it on Friday night in Colorado.


Brian Lashoff, called back up from the Grand Rapids Griffins with the NHL’s roster limits no longer in place, swapped into the lineup for Ian White… Henrik Zetterberg returned from a groin injury to replace the injured Damien Brunner (hip flexor) in the lineup.